Creativity and frivolous ideas

I love how all the great adventures and collaborations always start with one person saying “Why don’t we <insert a ridiculous idea here> ? and the other one  going “Why Not?”

So when Howard Gossage (a nonconformist advertising genius famously known as The Socrates of San Francisco) sat with the Publisher of Scientific American in a New York Restaurant to explore some new ways to expand the magazine’s reach, he suggested having a paper plane competition for the magazine. The publishers agreed. Details aside, the 1st International Paper Airplane contest was signed off. The contest received 12,000 entries within six weeks of placing ads in local newspapers asking people to join the competition.

The results from the contest were compiled into this book – The Great International Paper Airplane Book. It also featured the winning entries with DIY instructions.

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The book explains how paper airplanes are quite different with paper darts. Darts  do not have any personality – they fly straight and that’s it.

“The paper airplane is a very different affair. It is, more accurately, a paper glider. You do not throw it. You let it go or push it very slightly; and the weight head carries it forward, gracefully and gently, like a seagull coming to rest upon the deck of a ship. A little while ago it was a sheet of notepaper, but now it glides like the fairest of white birds. Yet a perfect flight requires very often an infinitude of patience, a folding and refolding, a shaping and reshaping with the scissors.”

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Jerry Mander, George Dippel and Howard Gossage, authors of the book write, “In our experience, we have found that the biggest thinkers we have dealt with are the ones most willing to support such “frivolous”projects”

It’s important to explore our ability to go astray and come up with some really frivolous ideas.

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